Direct Talk Compatible Phones

(The actual list is a bit further down the page, if you’d like to skip there.)

Please Note: None of this information should be considered authoritative. It was gathered while I researched the feasibility of picking up a few old Nextels to use as off-network walkie-talkies.

What Is Direct Talk?

Direct Talk is a term used to describe the ability of certain Nextel-style (Motorola iDEN) phones to do two-way radio style chat (“chirping” or “Direct Connect”) without the need for cell towers. Traditional Direct Connect will have each phone connected to a cell tower, which relays and routes all communications. Direct Talk bypasses the towers, and works between phones. The feature was presumably introduced for Nextel users who found themselves in dead zones often enough to also have to carry conventional walkie-talkies.

From a technical perspective, Direct Talk is a digital simplex 900 MHz (ISM Band) Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) format. Nextel lists the power output as being 0.7 Watts (700 mW). There appear to be ten channels, times fifteen codes. It is believed that the 15 codes do not influence the 10 FHSS sequences, but are equivalent to talkgroups. The “channels” do not appear to match up with those used by other products, such as Motorola’s DTR-series radios or the TriSquare handhelds.

As with all simplex handhelds, range figures vary tremendously; Nextel says “up to 7” but advertises 2-3 miles as a more common range. (Although it’s rarely done on cell phones these days, remember that extending the antenna will help considerably.)

Private (one-on-one) and group calls are supported. Nextel states that there is a limit of 16-20 users on a group call in close distance.

The feature is also known as MOTO Talk. Boost and SouthernLINC typically disable the feature on their phones. The feature is independent of carriers (since it bypasses towers), but can be disabled in the handsets, as those providers have been known to do.

A SIM card is required for DirectTalk to operate, though you do not need active service with any provider. I have seen mixed reviews about attempting to use the service with “virgin” cards that have never been activated, or have been activated on non-iDEN networks: some have reported it works great, others have said it did not.

Direct Talk Compatible Phones

The following phones do support Direct Talk. (I have not personally verified this information.)

  • Nextel ic402
  • Nextel ic502
  • Nextel ic602
  • Nextel ic902
  • Nextel i275
  • Nextel i315
  • Nextel i325 (and i325is)
  • Nextel i335
  • Nextel i355
  • Nextel i365
  • Nextel i425
  • Nextel i455 (mixed reviews: some apparently have the feature disabled)
  • Nextel i560
  • Nextel i570
  • Nextel i580
  • Nextel i615
  • Nextel i670
  • Nextel i760
  • Nextel i776
  • Nextel i850
  • Nextel i870
  • Nextel i880

Phones without Direct Talk

Some phones do not support Direct Talk. I have put “(not supported)” aside them for the benefit of those who find this via search and don’t read in full. 🙂

  • Nextel i265 (not supported)
  • Nextel i305 (not supported)
  • Boost i455 (mixed reviews: some do work)
  • Nextel i530 (not supported)
  • Nextel i710 (not supported)
  • Nextel i730 (not supported)
  • Nextel i860 (not supported)
  • Nextel i920 (not supported)
  • Nextel i930 (not supported)
  • PRO-series (not supported)
  • LX-series (not supported)
  • Z-series (not supported)
  • BB-series (not supported)

Related Links

58 thoughts on “Direct Talk Compatible Phones

  1. Pingback: Motorola Phones - The Forums

  2. I have two i335 and a i465 (aka Clutch). I have used Boost sims in the Nextel phones for DirectTalk mode. The trick is getting Nextel phones, and getting the SIM card that goes with the phone. Boost SIM vs. Nextel SIM has nothing to do with it.

  3. just to update folks, the i615 does not have the direct talk feature, i bought a set of 10 and found out the hard way,lol, its not even there in the rss so it has not been disabled, its just not in the firmware for this phone.

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  5. Did you eventually end up going with an iDEN phones using Direct Talk? I had some i560’s a few years ago and used them for that purpose and I was considering doing it again but I am looking into if there is a better solution these days. I really preferred the sound quality of these units over the regular FRS/GMRS radios.

  6. I do use them periodically. I bought a few i760’s, for perhaps $10 apiece in a lot, on eBay a while back.

    One of the things I like is that they’re cheap enough that I’m not too worried about damaging them. I took them with us kayaking one time, knowing that if one fell overboard, it wouldn’t be a big loss. The other thing I like is that, from what I’m told, you can dial 911 with any phone, regardless of whether it’s on contract, so if an emergency had come up, we could have used our “radios” to call 911 for help. (But fortunately, I’ve never had occasion to test this. And please don’t trust my third-hand information on the matter.)

    One big downside I realized is that no brick-and-mortar stores seem to sell chargers for these things anymore. You can still find them online, but if you do what I did and go on vacation forgetting the charger, you’ll find that Best Buy, RadioShack, and the Sprint/Nextel store don’t have anything to fit.

    • The old Nextel phones in general will NOT be able to make 911 calls — they do not have the ability to roam to other providers’ networks, and the original Nextel frequencies are being used for LTE Band 26 FDD.
      The exception might be the relatively rare powersource phones that had 1.9GHz–maybe they could still roam to Sprint, not sure.

    • You are correct in that any phone, activated or not, have the ability to call 911. However, the network must be active, and unfortunately Nextel’s has been decommissioned and the frequencies were repurposed by Sprint, which has now been purchased by T-Mobile. I’m not sure of any carrier utilizing the 800 MHz SMR channels, is still using the IDEN technology. I believe SouthernLinc was the last carrier, and they shut off their IDEN service early last year. The regional wireless provider was previously providing “nationwide” service through a roaming agreement with Nextel. When Nextel went offline, this greatly reduced their potential coverage area, and it was difficult to compete with true nationwide cellular carriers.

  7. Hi Brando,

    Sure thing! There wasn’t a lot of information about this on the Internet when I first put this together, so another page with this info is certainly a good thing.

    • Matt, I’m gathering up a few of these Nextel Motorola DirecTalk phones for folks (ie families or groups) to use for communications. Sure does beat the chatter found on FRS/GMRS while at amusement parks, etc. I hope to copy/paste/print/distribute some of the information you have gathered and share it with my group. Would that be alright with you? Of course I will credit you and your site. You have done a great job at explaining DT.

      Btw… there is a retail store i have in mind that might find these capable phones (PTT radios) handy for secure communications… the retail shop is geared towards “Preppers”. I might suggest the store owner check-out your site and some of the links you’ve posted.
      Anyway thanks again for your information and exhaustive list of DT phones. Even though the site has been around for a few years, its still worthwile and beneficial.

  8. I bought a couple of ic502’s for Direct Talk use but when I insert the SIM, it says “In Progress” and I cannot make it go away or access any menu. Is there a way to successfully use these phones? They were new in the box.

    • i686 works as well, messing with all mine right now, it works really well. Old post but saw it and thought I’d throw it in just in case it helps someone.

  9. Hi,
    I need to know that …can we disable/remove the moto talk feature
    on iden i365is r765 armadillo on Radio.

    kindly suggest


  10. I have a Motorola i305 I used years ago its been dropped, kicked and ran over still works great ….. I would love to put it back in service but just for the walkie feature , I have been searching and can’t find a plan that specifies it will work with the phone . Can anyone set me up with a site that might have some answers about who and how . Thank You

    • I’ve been doing a ton of research as a Verizon Wireless employee of utilizing the 800Mhz CDMA network to use the i305 on. In all technicality it can work, but I still have months of research to do before I can attempt it. From what I’ve found so far though, is that the CDMA network is the best bet.

  11. I use Moto talk when hiking and the outdoor performance is very good. The blip blip sound is fairly loud so not suitable for hunting. When used indoors, like in a shopping mall, the performance is more limited depends on how many concrete structures are in between the two walkie talkie units. Only get Nextel phones because Boost phones usually don’t work.

  12. Did the general public have reception with the Boost; being as most if not all private and public phones had no reception?? Not sure if i’m asking correctly – is walkie talkie recep.

  13. The Nextel i530 DOES NOT Direct Talk. Though Motorola i530 user guide says it can. I have two i530 which don’t perform off network communications.

    • Since the motorola nextel i530 was issued to our Dept. back in 2004? We were never able to use the PTT off network or away from nextel tower connectivity. We had a call into the nextel tech staff to advise us how to enable this feature but we were told that it didnt have the capability. I would love to know how to make this work even if I have to rip the board out & solder a external antenna? Sprint,virgin mobile, boost & southern Linc WILL NOT let you hook up old nextel phones.

  14. Can anyone confirm that the 7100i and the 8350i Blackberry models released for Nextel will work with the Direct Talk walkie talkie feature for the one mile estimated distance through line of sight. I only need the walkie talkie/direct connect functionality not to hook it up with any cell network for other features. Thank you in advance for any assistance.

  15. hello there

    i have a motorola i706 which when in GroupTalk mode does not showed the caller id of the person talking, can anyone plse assist?

    when one to one its okay

    tankQ v much in advance

  16. Just to add to the subject, i576 works great. I gave it to my kids to play around with it, and it sounds better than some $50 walkie talkies.

  17. glad i kept my phones. i have 2 IC502 Nextel made me pay 200 a piece for when i left. maybe I’ll get some more use from them yet.

  18. i looked in my basement and i have a few of the phones you list as still usable for walkie talkies. the better news is i still have a few chargers too. now I’ll have to find some time to see if the chargers and batteries are still good.

  19. We’re can I get cheap services for one of this direct connect phone I want one real bad for my business and crew works

    Any links web site that would help thanks

  20. I have a couple of I 1000 + I don’t see them on the list? would anyone know if they would work as a Walkie talkie? how would one add a sim card? not sure if the back comes off.

    • i580’s will work on direct talk. You just need to know how to set them up to do so. It can be a pain and you will probably have to set it to direct talk every time you power up but it will save the direct talk settings you assigned previously.

  21. Considering there haven’t been many posts in recent yearsI am not sure if anyone is out there reading these. But in any case, I thought it would be interesting to see just how many people out there have the Nextel phones and know about direct talk. There may not be enough users left to try this but if we could select a day and time frame to all turn on our direct talk phones and see who is around our area and say hello. Maybe I’m getting starved for human contact and going stir-crazy, but it might be fun to try.
    I have noticed some intriguing things about Direct Talk. You can only key up and talk if someone else is in range. So I think it would be quite hard to actually hear anything. But I’ve been experimenting using the 6 iden phones I have. Although their individual range is limited, especially within city limits, when you have multiple phones where at least one phone is within range, the other phones can hear you, but your signal maybe broken up and garbled. Still, it inreased my range by about a quarter mile to have another iden phone on direct connect close by. Other phones that were farther away than could normally pick my signal up were able to hear me that extra quarter mile.

    This got me to thinking that if we could turn some of the iden phones into repeaters, the way a lot of ham radios can, we could set up a long distance network if there were enough participants.

    It would require that those phones converted to repeaters be left on all of the time. Concerns over the phones overheating and catching fire would need to be tested and worked out.

    I’m not sure if that would even be legal. Who knows if the FCC even monitors those frequencies.

    That leads me to another problem. Frequencies. I have been testing my phones with a frequency counter and have found that channel 1 is not just one frequency. All of the channels switch frequencies practically everytime they transmit. I don’t know how the radios are able to find each other unless they have a preprogrammed sequence of frequencies set up for each channel.

    So far I have found over 30 frequencies ranging from 934.131mhz – 1269.012mhz. And that was just about an hour of keying up each phone to see if there was a discernable pattern. So far I haven’t seen anything obvious.

    I’m also wondering which digital language these phones are using and if any of the new digital radios might also use it. Seeing as how Motorola designed these, I wonder if the iden language might have been used in other radios they produce.

    So is anybody else still out there? Just nod if you can hear me…

    • The reason you’re seeing all the various frequencies is that these radios employ frequency hopping, otherwise known as Spread Spectrum to minimize crosstalk or interference.

    • If you’re still out there, I’m still playing with and thinking about these radios. It just seems general interest in MT is hard to find the past few years. I’m thinking about starting some sort of resource on the internet for mototalk stuff. Maybe a discord.

      Found some interesting documentation and information over the years I’d be happy to share.

      If anyone is out there that is interested, leave a reply to this message.


  22. JJ – you made me laugh. We’re finally coming to the end of 2020 but I still come back to this page once in a while. I have two old Boost i275’s (they were actually new) stashed for DT. Haven’t ever needed to actually use them but the doomsday prepper in me just thought it’d be fun to have. (I have more than one wireless carrier with active service so I pretty much won’t need DT)

    I haven’t really looked into any specifics, I had Boost as an extra line back in the day and loved the idea of the walkie talkie feature. I just never had a need for it but do miss the iconic Nextel chirp.

  23. I can’t believe that on July 2021 we still talking about this old technology that brought us back to so many memories and so much fun I still have 4 i365 with DT features and I am a ham radio licensed operator and I love those phone.

  24. I just purchased two i860’s and one i930 there has to be a way to use the walkies on these things. I remember when I had them back in 2004-2006 they came with direct talk

  25. I’m just wondering if anyone has had any success sending and receiving text messages using the Nextel Direct Talk mode. Apparently it was supported as a feature of Dirct Connect, but since the wireless network has been long decommissioned, that’s not really an option anymore.

    • Hello ,
      Do you have any reference related to SMS over DT ? I worked with RSS Lab 29 around and there’s no option related to this feature

  26. Don’t bother buying any of the hybrid phones. The models with the “icXXX” designation that is. They require the ORIGINAL SIM card that it came with. No other SIM card will work on it. Trust me. I bought 3 ic502 phones before I realized it wasn’t a defective phone they just had the incorrect sim in them.

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